It’s that time of year again when the hustle overwhelms your bustle in this season of giving. You’re trying to find the best deals on gifts for your family and friends and hopefully get some donations out as well. While spreading the cheer, why not sprinkle some right in your hometown?
Giving to First Responders
First responder life doesn’t stop for holidays. So, while kids look forward to school break and nine-to-fivers get a day or two off, first responders keep going, covering the community by responding to calls and being present for things like traffic details or high-volume events. People still need help all year round, and our responders are there every day and every night.
So, in the season of giving, why not give back to those who give constantly? They’re driven to this job of selflessness and sacrifice, so let’s give back as much as possible to show our support.
Here are some ways you and your community can give back to your local first responders.
7 Ways to Give Back to First Responders
Every department in every city or town has different needs, but here are some basics you can do wherever you are.
Who doesn’t love free food? Nothing brightens a department quite like a nice person dropping off cookies or a home-cooked meal. Hopefully, there’s time to enjoy it, but if not at the moment, it’s nice to know it’s there when they return. (Bring enough so there’s some there when they return.) Everyone needs to eat and first responders don’t always have time to eat well, so this manner of giving goes to both the heart and the stomach.
Responders love receiving kind notes of encouragement from those they serve. They love getting joyful cards of thanks from the children in their community. Reading notes of support lifts their spirits. Have your neighborhood write out some cards or notes. Ask your kid’s teacher to have the class make cards or a sign. It may seem simple, but a little love goes a long way to put a smile on someone’s face.
First responders don’t just give to the community through their service. They host drives for food, clothes, and toys, especially around this season of giving. Show your support for their support by contributing to their fundraisers and toy drives. Show up to their events and participate as much as you can. This shows support for what they do and solidarity in the cause they’re supporting.
Pay attention to when you see your local departments hosting events like grand openings, education fairs, retirement parties, or swearing-in ceremonies. The bigger the event the better; they’ll need more local participation.
If it’s an educational event like a fire safety day, offer to volunteer. Maybe you have a business that could help in some way by offering an item or service to be raffled off. Proceeds go to the department or a cause of their choosing. Are they celebrating a new pup? Offer a donation of dog food and have the kids bring it. Are they retiring old apparatus? Show up and check out the history lesson. First responders love their work and they love when communities show an interest in their events.
There doesn’t need to be a reason. Stop by and visit your local department. Just say, “Hi,” and ask if there’s anything they need. Feel free to bring some coffee and treats, or bring the kids to see if they can get a tour. If you’re unsure, call first. You might find there’s a best time to come or any time might be fine. A friendly visit is always welcome.
We support our support by, well, supporting the support for our support, follow?
There are loads of non-profit first responder support companies and they could use your donations. Don’t wait for the season of giving, give all year round. There are so many out there, but here’s a list of some of them:
- First Responders Children’s Foundation: This group provides financial support to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty as well as families enduring significant financial hardship due to tragic circumstances. They also provide educational opportunities for children and communities.
- FRC Foundation: Founded by FRC, this organization offers free coaching to families of first responders when their departments only cover the responders. You can read more about this endeavor here.
- First Responders Foundation: This organization provides programming including behavioral health services, physical fitness programs and classes, med management, and more, to serve and honor first responders and their families.
- National First Responders Fund: The NFRF is a financial resource for first responder programs and training to address awareness and recovery from work-related PTSI. They connect private donors and the financial needs of first responders relating to PTSI sustained on the job.
- Gary Sinise Foundation: They serve the nation by honoring veterans, first responders, and their families. They create and support programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
- Operation Gratitude: This organization is all about thanking the military and other first responders by sending care packages to both those serving overseas and those here at home.
- Tunnel to Towers Foundation: In memory of Stephen Siller, T2TF has many programs for first responders, most notable is building mortgage-free homes for catastrophically injured first responders and their families.
- Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation: This foundation works to provide education and lifesaving equipment to first responders, such as defibrillators, bullet-proof vests, bunker gear, and more.
- All Clear Foundation: This foundation supports the mental well-being of first responders and their families by providing education and support to all those struggling.
Give back by representing your local first responders. Share a post or article to spread awareness of first responder news, good or bad. Show a flag of support on your business, vehicle, or lawn. Spread the news about local bills or laws supporting first responders, or show opposition to those that do not support them. Reach out to your local representatives and government officials to urge more support to first responders. Public support can make or break any system, so support your responders at all times so they can best support you.
Do Your Part
For all our first responders do for us, they deserve our support. Let’s make their world a little brighter this season of giving and all year. Let’s also lessen the stress by creating a safe, responsible, and kind community around them. The job is hard enough. For those who give daily, let’s give back as a community and strengthen our first responders. We appreciate them, now let’s show it.